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Arty ban on beef

A cow preserved in formaldehyde, ran into an unlikely obstacle on its way to a Tokyo museum.

by: Reuters: Sophie Hardach | 10 Apr 2008

The cow, preserved in formaldehyde, is a piece of art by British artist Damien Hirst's. Unfortunately even 'beefy' art is prohibited from entering the country under Japan's import ban on British beef.

Hirst's "Mother and Child, Divided", consisting of a cow and a calf each sliced in half, is part of a retrospective of Britain's controversial Turner Prize – and its eventful journey illustrates the challenge of taking increasingly complex works of modern art around the world.

Japan stopped beef imports from Britain after an outbreak of mad cow disease there. The Mori Art Museum had to convince customs officials that even the most adventurous gourmets are unlikely to tuck into Hirst's cow.

"I think my staff explained that it's not for eating," said Fumio Nanjo, director of the Mori Art Museum.

Once the cow had cleared customs, another aspect of the artwork turned into a headache for the curators – the formaldehyde solution in which the animals are preserved.

The original cow and calf, which won the Turner Prize in 1995, have started to rot, and the Japanese museum will be showing a new and improved version that is usually displayed at the Astrup Fearnly Museum in Oslo.

It's not the first time one of Hirst's preserved creatures is causing a stir. In 2006, Hirst had to replace his pickled shark, titled "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living", with a new one after the original had begun to rot.

But is it art? Post a comment and tell us what you think about this 'beefy' piece of art.

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